How On Earth Did Us Gay Guys Survive the Late 70's and Early 80's?!

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by HellsKitchenmanNYC, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. HellsKitchenmanNYC

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    In the windmills of my mind I can see a much younger HellsKitchenMan circa 1982 getting ready for his BIG move to NYC. He was 22 and it was going to be all exciting and adventurous and delightful.
    But of course as his luck is there was this weird cancer going on that he hadn't heard of that was 'getting' gay men.
    Cut to my going away party, my aunt came over and gave me an envelope with five dollars in it for emergencies. My mother's boyfriend gave me a 12 inch of a Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney record. My mother gave me an article, a tiny one she clipped from Time or Newsweek about the new GAY CANCER and asked me to be careful in NYC. I had NO idead what was about to explode in the world.
    Yeah I'm from the smallest state in the country and all and people there are very family oriented but I really had no idea what that gay cancer thing was all about. But it did frighten me to say the least that you could die from having sex w/someone and it might take YEARS to happen. But being 22 I moved to NYC and forgot the warnings and got a great shake up when I got here. To say I was rocked by NYC is an understatement and to actually be in a city where stores stay open after 8 was mind blowing back then. THAT I could run across to a deli at 12 am and get whatever was totally mind altering and to get pizza by the SLICE? NOT a whole pie delivered by someone w/1 tooth?!!! WOW.
    Cut to 25 yrs later and I wonder after all the crazy things me and my friends did that none of us got AIDS or became positive. We must have been the luckiest guys in the world as it seems everyone was getting it then. My first boyfriend was the manager of a famous singer. He didn't tell me he was positive whne I was 23. I let him f me bareback but he was too huge too take so we stopped. Later he died after setting up a huge music charity for AIDS which was really hypocritical of him.
    Even while living in NYC guys were gying left and right and somehow this scourge barely touched my life. I don't know how and that's weird.
    I was never what you would call a 'pig' but I did like to experience all the craziness that NY had to offer e.g. the movie houses, bathouses, GH's...all the stuff back home I had only heard about.
    I felt guilty for a long time that all this stuff was happening around me and yet not to me or any of my friends. Yet everywhere I went people that I met either knew of a guy that was dying or had a lover that was dying. I can't image what a tsunami the 80's were for those guys living thru this. I just went on blithely playing around and making friends and working and getting in big w/the A list of NYC nitelife. I was out at every A list party and club and was friends w/all the Michael Aligs etc....
    As I got older and again, was almost untouched by this raging disease I started to come into my own and got awaay from all that Grace Jones madness and went to acting class, did stand-up for 3 years and met whole new circle of friends. Actual REAL people not guys in make-up w/luchboxes as purses. Can you imagine/ lol,
    But those folks even had friends that were dying or recently diagnosed HIV+.
    I never quite knew what to say to them as I hadn't experienced it and then I became aware of the black blanket that was covering NYC and the world w/this. At that time even people wee freaking out, didn't want to drink from fountains if a HIV person did b4 and all sorts of crazy things. They didn't want to shake hands etc....it was a WEIRD time.
    Cut to years later and after AZT and other treatments my friend got a b/f w/HIV. After I finally met someone w/the disease it became clear to me that it wasn't a plague...it was a disease and not like the clap or VD where you could just get a shot and badda bing it's over. I got to see what living w/it was really like and what it meant. Well 20 yrs later that guy is stil alive and healthy. Even if he did have a nasty falling out w/that nut Jane Siberry! lol.
    In the loooooooooooong run....I am glad that somehow I survived and never got HIV and none of my close friends did. I just wonder alot how that whole thing escaped me and as I said (because most of my close friends are also from my home state, now living here) I kiss the ground every day that I'm clear and wish all those guys that died were able to hang on a bit more till treatment came.
    What a CRAZY time the 80's were. The 80's was delicious for all it's new wave madness and carnal delites but it also slapped you in the face for it. It was fun seeing Madonna at Danceteria running around w/her ecords trying to get the dj's to play them etc...If only having sex wasn't a life sentence back then there would be millions of people still alive. Good people whose only crime was taking it or giving it.
    OK, OK this is the end of my rant/cornerstone archive moment!
     
  2. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    As you know, Hells, I lost two 7 year exs to AIDS, although we weren't together when they developed it. And one of them came back to live with me when he got sick and I took care of him until he died. In both cases I thought we were being monogamous and in the first case he was having sex with half of Boston and in the second, half of New York and we were having the most unsafe sex possible. I came to see their behaviour as not only suicidal but homicidal and was very angry for a long time.

    The fact that I'm negative is a fucking miracle and one I'm very grateful for. When I think of the number of people I will never grow old with, well, it saddens me on a level I can't begin to describe. I miss those people every day.
     
    #2 B_Nick8, Apr 18, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  3. HellsKitchenmanNYC

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    Yes and on another point you mentioned the word homicidal. That guy I dated when I was 22 or 23, the music manager. He knew he was positive. That sucks. What was weird is his twin brother robbed his bank accounts and yeeeeears later I 'dated' a guy that turned out to be his other brother.
    That was the flip side of being innocent. Everyone was trying to have mad sex but didn't want to date someone w/HIV yet all the HIV guys were evidently lying, or most of them from stories of my friends dating.
    It's still all so sad. I can't imagine what it was like to be HIV+ at a time when there was NO cure, no help really, and there was nothing to do but watch the clock tick your life away. Absolutely frightning!
     
  4. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    I don't know how you guys survived, but I'm glad you did, and I miss the ones who didn't make it. Like this guy: YouTube - Queen Love of My Life

    "Broken my heart, and now you leave me..." :cry:
     
  5. Bbucko

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    We didn't fucking survive by being pussies, that's for sure.

    I'll have a much longer post to add later, but for now I'll just leave some Human Sexual Response and Lou Miami & The Cosmetix. By some exceptionally odd synchronicity, I was watching these clips earlier this evening. I'd include some Young Snakes, but there's nothing on YouTube yet, dammit!
     
  6. HellsKitchenmanNYC

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    OOOOOOMMMMG I was friend w/HSR AND Lou MIAMI!
     
  7. HellsKitchenmanNYC

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    OMG! Loouuuu Miammmmmmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! I still have the records he gave me in Providence at the Living Room most notably the infamous Lunchbag 45!
     
  8. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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  9. Bbucko

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    I partied with HSR for a relatively short time. I worked with one of their housemates at Darts in Boston in 1979 back when they lived commune-style in a run-down rowhouse on Mission Hill. They were fabulous.

    Lou Miami I remember from shows at the In Square Men's Bar in Cambridge and The Channel. He also hung out at the 1270 in the Fenway when the first floor was punk, especially on Thursdays. He always come with girls.
     
  10. jason_els

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    I'm just glad to have you guys around. Don't think I'm not amazed by my luck in that.
     
  11. Bbucko

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    I posted this at AIDSmeds in 2007. I'm shocked that the 17th passed me by this year.

    Here's a video of Juliette Greco singing Les Feuilles Mortes, with English subtitles. If anyone knows French, here's La Javanaise (no subtitles, though: you'll just have to rough it out).
     
  12. nudeyorker

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    Most of it was luck, some of it was perhaps genetics.... For me it was a trip to the health clinic when I was at UCLA with an STD, and I had a doctor tell me that maybe a condom would be a good idea. That happened in 1972!
     
  13. HellsKitchenmanNYC

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    I;m still not sure what I was trying to say with this thread. I remember it being a piece of a conversation I had with myself and it just came out in words. There's pieces I left out and even if it boils down to the same thing...
     
  14. Bbucko

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    Go for it. Keep ranting; it feels good.
     
  15. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    Not necessarily. But clearly this is something Hells needs to get out. For me, I tear up whenever I come back into this thread.
     
  16. jason_els

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    It's a very harsh thread. I'm glad it's here.
     
  17. Bbucko

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    OK, here's a longer rant, and thanks, HKG for starting this thread. We dinosaurs gotta stick together, no?

    I moved into Boston the day after my last day of HS in May of 1978. It was high-summer for Disco, depressants/downs/pain pills (remember Quaaludes?) and tons and tons of casual sex. I have never been so free since: everything was permitted, nothing was stigmatized. Relativism ruled.

    I moved in with a guy named David who was in his mid-20s; he told me he loved me and I believed him, moving right from my parent's house into his apartment. I was exceptionally ill-prepared for any life except college, which wasn't an option for me. I discovered within two weeks that I'd made a terrible mistake. David was a total player, compulsively sexual; it wouldn't be unusual for him to have sex four or five times a day, then come home and fuck me whether i liked it or not. He was a brutal, selfish top who tore me repeatedly and left me bleeding most every night. David's the reason why I swore off bottoming for good. It was simply too traumatic for me, and still is. I cannot get penetrated without feeling raped.

    As I wasn't going to admit my mistake to my parents, I put up with it far too long. It wasn't until two months later in July that I shut David off completely. I suppose I was lucky he didn't throw my 18-year-old ass out on the street, but it was still a long, hot, stressful summer.

    Boston in the late 70s was a very different place than it is today. It was extremely poor and very run down. Only the financial district and Government Center were renovated or rebuilt. But because it was so depressed, rents were very cheap, and I located an apartment in the Fenway that I could share with a friend. It was a large-ish 2-bed and cost $280 per month, heated. It was, of course, vermin-infested and a fire trap. But at least I wasn't sharing a space with David any more.

    I devoted little time to sleep. When I wasn't working hard, I was playing hard. As the drinking age in 1978 was still 18, I would go out every night I could and never went home alone. The hours began to take a toll, but i really didn't care until I wound up with Mono. I was sick for the month of December. I had a very little bit saved, and my roommate was very understanding as regards food until i could get back on my feet.

    In January, just before my 19th birthday, I got a job at Dart's, which was a very chic Disco on Dartmouth Street just steps from Copley Square. The money was much better, and my social life was really booming as everybody who went to the bar knew me. I had lost all my baby fat (not that much) from having Mono, and was a very gaunt but fashionable 135 lbs. When I wasn't at the bar, I was at the Regency Baths in Winthrop Square downtown, where I'd average 10-15 guys a night. There was also the porno theater when such moods struck. By June of 1979, I had probably slept with about 300 guys.

    I had a regular FB who introduced me to a guy who lived as a houseboy at Land's End Inn in Provincetown. I found him extremely attractive, and we flirted. He gave me his number, and I kept it for future reference. His name was Alan.

    Sometime in June, I got into an altercation with the manager of the bar, who felt that I was too big for my britches. The fact that I was high as a kite didn't help anything. I fished Alan's number out of wallet and called him, asking if I could visit. I was on the boat the next morning and spent a week in bliss smoking hash, opium and making myself ingratiated with the owner of Land's End Inn, a guy named David Schoolman. He was really very sweet to me and we became good friends.

    On returning home, I fell ill very quickly. My roommate called my parents and I was brought to the ER, where I was found to have Hep B. I was sick with Hep B for six months and went down to 125 bony pounds. Alan came to spend every other weekend with me, though we didn't have sex. I was infectious and too weak.

    I was out again by March after I got my tax refund and moved into a rooming house on Marlborough Street where a pal also lived. He was an artist and encouraged my artistic pretensions, and for six months we lived a very bohemian lifestyle of sex (with each other and many others), drugs and assorted weird moments. We won a job designing a logo for a new bar opening in Provincetown and the owner invited me down for the Memorial Day opening. Grace Jones (funny you mentioned her) was the featured act, and I saw her practice, then perform. That night, the owner took Grace and her lover Jean-Paul Goude out to a lavish dinner, and I was his date, which was a real hoot. It was just four of us at the table, then we went dancing at the Pied Piper with all the lesbians.

    Although I sold a few portraits, it really wasn't enough to live off of, and I took a job at a liquor store on Charles Street. I met a guy there who would be my best friend named Gil. Gil came from a very proper CT family but had frittered his life away as a speed freak. His one claim to fame was opening a hustler bar in San Juan with the guy who sang I'll Love You More Today Than Yesterday (But Not As Much As Tomorrow) with his inheritance.

    Gil and I would go out after work and a big pasta dinner. I acted as bait for guys, and we'd round up a variety of guys for boozy and drug-filled Crazy 8 card games after the bar closed. Gil would sell them drugs, and I'd count the money to make sure he didn't fuck up too badly. Frequently these evenings wound up as large group-sex affairs.

    I had to move in September, as they were finally selling the house on Marlborough Street for condos, and a friend of my sister's let me take over the lease on his very nice studio apartment overlooking the Fens. I gradually moved away from Gil, as he was getting crazier and crazier, and it was a long schlep from Beacon Hill to my new apartment. In October I met a guy named Larry, who offered stability, which I recognized that I needed.

    Our bliss didn't last long, and by 1982 I had opened up the relationship. As Larry and I became more like brothers, I started meeting guys at bars and having torrid little flings. One of these was with a guy named JD, about whom I've written here. It was also during this time that Larry informed me, in the middle of a dinner party, that Gil had been found stabbed and mutilated in his apartment. I felt like I'd ducked a bullet there, but grieved Gil privately (still do, actually). It was around that time that I stopped doing drugs.

    JD and I broke up in August 1982, Larry and I were done by December and he moved out. I was out a few months later when I got way too drunk and brought home the wrong guy. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer, overpowered me and penetrated me without my consent. I was torn and bleeding (again) and within a few weeks had a terrible flu-like cold, combined with an inflamed ass. This is when I was infected with HIV. This guy was dead by 1988.

    I was single for about two very slutty years, until I met a Venezuelan named Carlos. Even as late as 1984, I had never met anyone who insisted on protected sex. In fact, I remember vividly the first guy who insisted on it: it was in the late fall of 1984. I thought it was some cruel joke. As I met Carlos a few months later, we discussed it briefly, decided to forgo condoms and fucked like bunnies.

    I had established my career while still with Larry, and as Carlos' family was very wealthy, we lived like kings in the South End in the mid/late-80s (85-89), during the darkest days of the plague. We were literally losing friends left and right. We practiced safer-sex when we played outside the relationship (mostly) but never with each other. I lived in NYC for most of 1988, having been moved there by the company I worked for to manage their store on Madison Ave. I played around, but very safely. Sex in the late 80s was very dry, almost medical. It wasn't sexy at all.

    By 1989, David and Alan were both dead. Carlos and I had broken up, and I took a roommate who had what they called ARC, or AIDS Related Complex, a term they no longer use. I continued going to funerals at an amazing clip. It was like death was all around me. I went on vacation in Spain in 1990 and fell in love with a little French bodybuilder named Jean-Marc. As I felt that I had nothing to lose, I allowed myself to fall passionately, chemically in love with him. I returned from Spain in May of 1990 and was on a plane to Paris in July. I thought I was escaping death, but, of course, such wasn't possible. Jean-Marc was dead by April 1992, and I returned home. Within two months of JM's death, his best friend/ex lover had died as well. Adding them with JD and my roommate from 1989-90, and my count was up to 60. I stopped keeping score after that.

    When I came back from Paris I was very depressed but would still go out now and then. I was shocked to see that, no matter where I went, I didn't recognize a soul. Carlos told me he'd tested positive, and was very sick until Protese Inhibitors came out in 1996. They saved his life.

    I always said that Boston in the 80s was 500 faces who got their hair cut in the same three places and shopped in the same four stores. By 1992, the 500 faces had, essentially, disappeared.

    In the summer of 1996, I fell very sick, and after years of denial couldn't escape the fact that I, too was poz. By the time I fell sick, I was down to skin and bones, and nearly didn't make it either.
     
  18. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    Jesus Christ. I hope all of lpsg is reading this, Bbucko. Yours, ours, is a history people are all too quickly forgetting.

    Thank you.
     
  19. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    Bbucko: I love your unadorned, plain-spoken writing style. I could place myself into your narrative, the prose is so evocative (like a documentary, it matter-of-factly unfolds). I could also do this with Randy Shilts' "And the Band Played On", and the HBO docudrama-like independent film "Longtime Companion".

    I was just a kid during this time, but, still, I would like to add to the local color and soundtrack of these late-'70's/early-to-mid '80's memories:

    The B-52's Legal Tender Music Video on Yahoo! Music


    YouTube - Weather Girls - Its Raining Men


    YouTube - DONNA SUMMER - LAST DANCE
     
  20. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    When I say "ours", I mean that with a capital "O".
     
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